Gas & Oil Pipeline Accidents

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Law Topics >  Cause of Injuries > Gas & Oil Pipeline Accidents

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, there are over two million miles of natural gas pipelines and about 157,000 miles of hazardous liquid pipelines running across the United States. Unfortunately, because of corrosion, mechanical damage, and other time-dependent defects, gas and oil pipelines often rupture or explode. The scene is often devastating. Ignited gas can send flames hundreds of feet into the air, injuring or killing anyone near the explosion. Thousands of gallons of gasoline or fuel oil may be released into marshland or lakes and rivers after a rupture.

Since 1990, there have been nearly 2,300 major pipeline accidents resulting in over 200 deaths. Property and environmental damage reaches the millions of dollars. Safety officials often blame pipeline accidents on old pipes that have been neglected by the company in charge of their operation. For example, authorities investigating a natural gas pipeline explosion and fire near Carlsbad, New Mexico in August 2000 that killed twelve people found significant internal corrosion at the rupture location. The pipeline segment that ruptured was constructed in 1950.

The operation of pipelines with integrity problems remains a recurring issue in accidents investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.